Summary: Comparison of the commitments of the sinful woman and the Pharisee.
Ham and Eggs
One of the powerful figures in Wall Street fell in love with an actress. For many months he was always seen escorting her about in the fashionable circles of town. Deciding to marry her, he first put a private detective to the job of looking into her former dealings and friends in order to guard himself against any rash mistake. At last he received his agent’s report. “Miss Blank enjoys an excellent reputation. Her past is spotless. Her associates have been above reproach. The only breath of scandal is that, in recent months, she has been much seen in the company of a business man of doubtful reputation.”
1) Illuminated scripture
a) v 36 – dinner was a lavish affair, possibly in a courtyard, visible to the community. Meant to be seen, so that all could see the generosity of the host.
i) Uninvited guests might stand around the courtyard wall, watching the affair.
ii) tables were low, calling for a reclining position
iii) Unlikely that the woman was invited
b) Basic hospitality called for three actions with guests
i) Washing feet by servant
ii) A kiss of greeting
iii) Anointing the head with oil
iv) Whether an intentional snub or unintended oversight, these were not done for Jesus.
v) Perhaps he was mistaken for one of the uninvited onlookers
(1) He mingled with them, then steps out of the crowd and takes his place at the table
(2) By then items of hospitality had been overlooked
(3) It might have been too uncomfortable for Simon to go back and do them at this point
c) V 37-38 – the woman
i) Lived a sinful life – code for a prostitute
ii) Had lived – implies that it was in the past. Perhaps she had met Jesus before and had already been forgiven. Hearing that he was going to be eating at the Pharisee’s house, she comes to worship him – to thank him for what he has already done for her. She brings a jar of perfume – a “thank you” gift. Maybe she simply intends to pour the perfume on Jesus and then leave. But she is so overwhelmed by His presence that she begins to weep. The tears of joy, of gratitude, of repentance, of sheer awe flow from her face to Jesus’ feet. Only half-thinking, she uses the first thing she finds to dry the wet feet – her hair. It doesn’t work very well – hair just doesn’t really soak up the water. It spreads the dirt around the unwashed feet of Jesus. There’s some snickering from the other guests as she fumbles to clean up the mess her tears have made. Her embarrassment grows as she begins the acts she intended – kissing Jesus’ feet and pouring the perfume on them.
d) V 39 – Simon, the host
i) As this is unfolding in front of him, Simon has only doubts about Jesus’ claim to be from God. A prophet, a messenger from God, wouldn’t allow such a sinner as this to touch him. A prophet would condemn this wretched woman and send her immediately away. Vile sinners like this whore don’t belong around the religious high society. Maybe he was about to have her removed from the dinner when Jesus interrupts.
e) V 40 – the distraction.
i) It probably didn’t take the omniscient character, the all-knowing mind of God to know what was going on in Simon’s mind. Everyone around the table could see his face turning red with anger. His teeth clenched, his hands in closing into tight fists, Simon is just about to explode when Jesus speaks up. “I’ve got something to tell you,” he intones with a defusing quietness. “What is it?” comes the reply, clenched teeth barely moving to get the words out.
f) V 41-43 – a quick lesson
i) Two men have gone to a loan shark to get some money. One has borrowed two years’ wages, the other two months’. Both have blown through the cash and have no way to pay it back. So, the loan shark does something unthinkable – he forgives their debts. Tell me Simon, which one will love him most dearly?
ii) Simon’s mind races. He knows he’s been caught by the master. It doesn’t take a 45 minute sermon to explain this one to him – he understands in a flash. He replies almost like a teenager confronted by his parents “I guess it’s the one who owed two years’ wages.” You have judged correctly.
g) V 44-47 – practical application
i) Jesus turns to the woman, but speaks to Simon. Like a father defending his daughter, he speaks.
h) V 48-50 – refreshing her memory
i) Jesus reminds her that her sins are forgiven. That statement stirs up some murmuring among the guests as she is sent out.